Robert William Service

(16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)

Shakespeare And Cervantes


Obit 23rd April 1616

Is it not strange that on this common date,
Two titans of their age, aye of all Time,
Together should renounce this mortal state,
And rise like gods, unsullied and sublime?
Should mutually render up the ghost,
And hand n hand join Jove's celestial host?

What wondrous welcome from the scribes on high!
Homer and Virgil would be waiting there;
Plato and Aristotle standing nigh;
Petrarch and Dante greet the peerless pair:
And as in harmony they make their bow,
Horace might quip: "Great timing, you'll allow."

Imagine this transcendant team arrive
At some hilarious banquet of the gods!
Their nations battled when they were alive,
And they were bitter foes - but what's the odd?
Actor and soldier, happy hand in hand,
By death close-linked, like loving brothers stand.

But how diverse! Our Will had gold and gear,
Chattels and land, the starshine of success;
The bleak Castilian fought with casque and spear,
Passing his life in prisons - more or less.
The Bard of Avon was accounted rich;
Cervantes often bedded in a ditch.

Yet when I slough this flesh, if I could meet
By sweet, fantastic fate one of these two,
In languorous Elysian retreat,
Which would I choose? Fair reader, which would you?
Well, though our William more divinely wrote,
By gad! the lousy Spaniard has my vote.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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